Spotlighting and Breaking Down Toronto Raptors' Small Forward Position

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Spotlighting and Breaking Down Toronto Raptors' Small Forward Position
USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay, Steve Novak, Quincy Acy and Landry Fields are all listed at small forward on the Toronto Raptors depth chart, making it undoubtedly the deepest position on the roster.

 

Number Player Height Weight DOB School Years
22 Rudy Gay 6'8" 230 8/17/1986 Connecticut 7
16 Steve Novak 6'10" 235 6/13/1983 Marquette 7
4 Quincy Acy 6'7" 225 10/06/1990 Baylor 1
2 Landry Fields 6'7" 215 6/27/1988 Stanford 3

 

All of the aforementioned names are capable of playing more than one position on the court, so don't be surprised to see them suiting up at power forward—and in rare cases, shooting guard—next season as well.

Rudy Gay will see a bulk of the minutes at the 3 spot, but there will certainly be plenty of playing time to go around. 

 

Rudy Gay

2012-13 statistics: 75 games, 35.8 minutes, 18.2 points, 41.6 percent from the field, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.6 turnovers, 15.66 PER

2013-14 salary: $17,888,932

 

The second half of last season was simply a tease to what the Raptors could accomplish with Rudy Gay as their No. 1 option on offense. 

Now, with the team fully on his shoulders, Gay will look to elevate his status from fringe all-star to legitimate superstar by taking this franchise back to the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. 

Scoring has never been an issue. Gay's lowest offensive output came during his rookie season (2006-07) when he averaged just 10.8 points. Since then, he has yet to fall below the 18-points mark. 

How he gets those points is another story entirely. His field-goal percentage has dropped from 47.1 percent to 41.6 over the last three years. Gay needed 17.1 shot attempts to get the 19.5 points he averaged over 32 games with Toronto. 

A recent surgery to cure Astigmatism in his eyes will hopefully change all of that.

Blurred vision could explain his shooting woes, but taking smarter shots will also be key. Gay nailed just 159 of his 488 shots from 16 feet or further last season, which comes out to just 32.5 percent.

If he continues to struggle with his shooting, there will be no excuses to fall back on. The problems with his eyesight have been rectified, so unless it really is just bad shot selection and mechanics, the ball should be finding its way through the hoop on a more consistent basis now. 

Having trained with NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon this summer should do wonders for his game. It's hard to argue against Olajuwon being the greatest back-to-the-basket player the league has ever seen. Gay attempted just 27 percent of his shots from within five feet, so hopefully working alongside "The Dream" will have taught him a thing or two about how to post up and be more assertive around the rim. 

There are no more obstacles standing in his way. We will soon find out if Gay really is the player to take the Toronto Raptors back to the promised land. 

2013-14 projected statistics: 36.3 minutes, 19.7 points, 44.4 percent from the field, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.7 turnovers

 

Steve Novak

2012-13 statistics: 81 games, 20.3 minutes, 6.6 points, 42.5 percent from three-point range, 1.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.1 turnovers, 11.3 PER

2013-14 salary: $3,750,001

 

Acquired as part of the deal for former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, Steve Novak will now bring his acclaimed three-point shooting to a Raptors team in desperate need of some long-range firepower. 

"Novakaine" shot 42.5 percent from behind the arc last season, which was 10th in the NBA. His career 43.3 three-point shooting percentage is also good enough for sixth in league history. In fact, 360 of his 430 shot attempts were from beyond the three-point line, so calling Novak a one-dimensional player may actually be an understatement.

No matter.

The Raptors need someone who can stretch the defense and make the opposition pay with consistent shooting. Novak fits that bill to a T. 

Unfortunately, Novak offers next to nothing as it pertains to other facets of the game. He's not a great rebounder because he never finds himself down in the trenches of the paint, his defense is severely lacking and he's not a terrific passer because, most of the time, he's shooting when he gets the ball. 

If his three-pointers are falling, that's all that really matters—because that's all the team needs from him when he's on the court.

If that's not the case, then all Novak becomes is a liability. Thankfully, looking back over his career, his percentages have been fairly solid, so that shouldn't be a problem. 

2013-14 projected statistics: 16.7 minutes, 6.1 points, 43.9 percent from three-point range, 1.4 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.2 turnovers

 

Quincy Acy

2012-13 statistics: 29 games, 11.8 minutes, 4.0 points, 56.0 percent from the field, 2.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, 0.6 turnovers, 15.9 PER

2013-14 salary: $788,872

 

If asked to describe Quincy Acy to a basketball fan unfamiliar with the Raptors, simply comparing his game to that of Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans should suffice. 

The fact that they look similar in appearance also helps. Toronto fans are no stranger to Evans, who played 58 games for the team from 2010 to 2011. Acy appears to be his second coming, and that's not a bad thing.

In fact, Acy is already beginning to show signs of a respectable jump shot, which is something Evans never had. What they both share however is a certain tenacity and willingness to be an energy role player that does the little things.

Toward the end of the year, Acy was beginning to get in the good graces of coach Dwane Casey, which resulted in more meaningful playing time. In the month of April, he would average 20.3 minutes, which is twice as much as at any other point earlier that season. 

Acy's 3.2 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes ranked third on the team. When he hits the glass, he hits it hard. It's that grit and determination that makes him so endearing to Raptors faithful. 

He was moved to small forward for his potential defense against some of the larger players at that position. It's an experiment that could eventually blow up in Casey's face, but with the work ethic Acy possesses—and his enthusiasm for this challenge—that won't be the case. 

2013-14 projected stats: 14.9 minutes, 4.9 points, 56.6 percent from the field, 3.4 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, 0.7 turnovers

 

Landry Fields

2012-13 statistics: 51 games, 20.3 minutes, 4.7 points, 45.7 percent from the field, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 turnovers, 10.3 PER

2013-14 salary: $5,225,000

 

The key to a successful 2013-14 season for Landry Fields will be staying healthy. Injuries to his right elbow and hand caused the Stanford alumnus to play in just 51 games during his first year with the Raptors.

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Even when competing, Fields was nowhere near 100 percent. Nerve damage in his arm caused his shooting to be quite erratic. He became a polar opposite to the player who was named to the All-NBA Rookie First Team back in 2011.

A three-year, $19 million deal thrust early expectations on the 25-year-old that he was never quite able to overcome. Fans became impatient, and the coaching staff was beginning to lose faith. 

All signs point to Fields returning stronger and better than ever next season, so hope is not lost. If he can restructure his shot and get it back to what it once was, he can surely bring some value off the bench with his mid-range game. 

Again, regaining the strength in his arm and maintaining a clean bill of health will be of the utmost importance for Fields. The Raptors have an abundance of wing players who will need adequate playing time in the rotation. If Fields can't stay on the court, he may become the odd man out. 

He's too talented for things to turn out that way. Here's hoping that the good far outweighs the bad. 

2013-14 projected statistics: 21.1 minutes, 5.2 points, 46.3 percent from the field, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.5 turnovers

 

*All statistics courtesy of 82games.com, Basketball-Reference.com and ESPN.com.

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